The two extremes

Today has been a slightly strange day. I got up quite early to go to the private school where I will be conducting my small research project to have a meeting with the principal about my project.

After that I took the bus to the NGO where I’m doing my research. Seriously. I went from one extreme to the other. Rich school to a centre for people who have nowhere else to go.

Personally, I think that these extremes are perfect examples for the way Bucharest is set up. There is such a huge number of people living off the €200 they make at their jobs (and I am not talking about really ‘bad’ jobs, but jobs regular people do. You know, building things, shop assistants, etc.), and a large number of people that do not even have that, but there are also a great number of people who make millions. You can see them drive around in their Porsches and Ferraris, which for me is strange, becuase at the number of potholes in the roads I wonder how their cars aren’t constantly broken…

Something that is great about Bucharest though, is that there is a growing middle class. It is definitely growing and quite visibly doing so. An example of this is the Pipera-Tunari area. 15 years ago there was nothing there. And when I mean nothing, there really was NOTHING. Grazing land. Sheep. The former owner of the area sold the land at pretty high prices and now resides in a huge villa. Around 1o years ago some expats began moving into the area because a school had recently moved there. But the amount of growth that has happened in the last 5 years is amazing.

The last time I was in Bucharest (2.5 years ago) some companies had built buildings and there were some new offices, but now this is a new place. People actually take the metro to the last stop now. There is more than one maxitaxi route, huge office parks, new bridges criss-crossing roads to reduce traffic, restaurants, shops, supermarkets. Everything you can think of. It’s a proper suburb now.I still remember when Taxis wouldn’t take you to this part of town without charging twice the rate because they would have to drive back to the town empty.

It’s strange, because Bucharest has developed so much over the last couple of years. Some other changes that I have observed are that people dress differently than they used to, there is actually less traffic although peoples lives have improved, you can just go to the supermarket and buy whatever it is you need, there are fewer street dogs and what seems to be a higher percentage of spayed and neutered dogs (seen by a tag in their ears). There are also more people riding bicycles and scooters. The buses are air-conditioned and peoples’ driving seems to be following the laws at least some of the time.

It’s great to see this city become more and more developed without losing its charm. Despite the many changes it is still the Bucharest I loved. No matter how much certain aspects of the city are turned onto their head, some things never change.

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